When the Thunder passed on every trade offer that had come along by Thursday’s deadline, the decision left open the door for Oklahoma City to go on some kind of spree this summer.
Whether general manager Sam Presti turns this off-season into his personal playground won’t be known until he begins making moves during the June draft. But it was Presti’s ability to maintain the option that explained why he stayed on the sidelines Thursday.
Most of this year’s deals were done by teams seeking to shed salary. Washington, New York, Sacramento, Chicago and Utah all gave away talent solely to trim their payrolls. The Thunder closed that chapter last summer. Nearly every team that made basketball-based decisions intended to improve their rosters — Cleveland, Dallas, Houston, Portland, Memphis and Charlotte — did so only by adding millions of dollars to their bottom line.
The Cavs now owe Antawn Jamison $28.4 million over the next two seasons. The Mavs are responsible for Caron Butler’s remaining $10.5 million in 2010-11. And the Rockets are now on the hook for the three years, $36 million left on Kevin Martin’s deal.
But by standing pat, the Thunder preserved what could be at least $12 million in salary cap space this summer, depending on where the cap figure comes in at when the July moratorium is lifted. That money could be used to lure free agents or be applied toward improving the roster via trades.
"This summer, with all those free agents, it’s going to be a big summer for some guys,” said Kevin Durant. "We’ll see how we upgrade our team. I’ve got all the faith in Sam. He’s going to make the right move for us.”
It’s important to keep in mind that the Thunder’s cap space would roll over into next season should the Thunder decide to not use it this summer.